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WWF RAW- February 25, 2002

by Scrooge McSuck

Booker T

Presented LIVE on the USA Network from the Dunkin Donuts Arena in Providence, RI, with Jim Ross and Jerry "The King" Lawler calling the action, unless otherwise noted. Matches taped for Jakked/Metal include the following: The Dudley Boyz defeated Spike Dudley and Tazz to become the #1 contenders (despite the APA winning a guaranteed title shot at No Way Out), Scotty 2 Hotty and Albert defeated the makeshift team of Perry Saturn and Sho Funaki, and Goldust pinned Cruiserweight Champion Tajiri because that's what happens when you're the Champion of the little guys.

We recap the shenanigans from last week with the nWo, including Hollywood Hogan trying to murder The Rock on Monday Night Raw, and Steve Austin's show-long abduction angle with Scott Hall from Smackdown. Speaking of Steve Austin, he faces MR. PERFECT in tonight's Main Event!

The nWo make their way to the ring, with Scott Hall pushing along a wheelbarrow. Hogan asks how did the people like what he did to the Rock. The crowd gives a mixed response, but Hogan replies like they were full-blown heels. Maybe he got carried away, but it felt "Real, real good" to hurt the Rock, and he has it on good authority that the Rock will be here tonight. He says he won't finish the Rock off tonight, he's saving to kick his candy a$$ until WrestleMania. Nash up next. He says they are the three biggest stars in the history of wrestling. Hall snatches the microphone, saying that Austin took things too far, attacking him with a crowbar and trying to kill him with a pickup truck. Nobody has a "beer party" at Scott Hall's expense. Hall asks Austin if he's a man, because he wants Austin one-on-one in the ring... at WrestleMania. He says if Austin accepts, they can call a truce until then. Jim Ross doesn't sound like he believes that.

Team Extreme are WALKING!

WWF Tag Team Championship Match:
Billy & Chuck (c) vs. The Hardy Boyz (w/ Lita):

No offense to Tazz and Spike, but I'm glad we moved the belts to a duo that Vince actually cares about pushing. The APA continues to wait for their title shot while teams that lost the No Way Out turmoil keep getting opportunities. I get that the prize of "WrestleMania" is attached, but if you're getting title shots regardless, does it really matter? Now you have the chance to enter WrestleMania AS THE CHAMPIONS. Chuck (with butchered hair) and Jeff start. Jeff slides between the legs and hits Chuck with a jaw breaker, followed by a dropkick. Double-team in the corner from the challengers, hitting Chuck with a double suplex for a two-count. Chuck blocks a Twist of Fate and Billy lays Matt out with a clothesline. Matt counters a powerslam with a reverse DDT and tags in Jeff. He runs wild for a moment and soon all four men are fighting in the ring. Poetry in Motion takes out Chuck. Billy avoids the same fate but gets hit with a Twist of Fate. Chuck straddles Jeff across the turnbuckle, drawing Matt's attention. Billy with the Cobra Clutch Slam for two. Lita sneaks in to hit a hurricanrana. Twist of Fate and Swanton Combo hits, but Chuck takes Jeff's head off with a Super-Kick, allowing Billy to cover and retain at 3:38. Lots of "hit a big move, no-sell it seconds later" stuff here.

Chris Jericho and Stephanie McMahon ARE IN THE BUILDING.

Michael Cole is backstage, looking for Steve Austin, and shilling the Tough Enough 2 special following Smackdown. Debra comes out of Austin's locker room, because she's still getting the occasional TV time in 2002 for no reason beyond being married to Austin.

Meanwhile, Christian is looking for Ric Flair so he can turn in his resignation papers, but only finds Arn Anderson. This is pro wrestling, just no show. Suddenly, Diamond Dallas Page shows up with a smirk on his face and offers to help Christian change his luck around. The only way Christian can change is by letting go of the negative and think positive. DDP asks Christian to give him a smile, and I think we all know how that one is going to look.

Elsewhere, Michael Cole finds Steve Austin and we get the "What" routine as Austin responds to Scott Hall's proposal, calling Hall a Jacka$$ over and over. Austin accepts the challenge for WrestleMania (several times) and will prove he's the last S.O.B. that Hall wants to mess with.

Rob Van Dam vs. Lance Storm vs. Big Show:

Jim Ross tells us that the winner of this match will be the #1 Contender to the Intercontinental Championship. Speaking of, here's William Regal to join the commentary table. Hmm... I wonder who will win, the heel JTTS, the giant JTTS or the babyface that has crossed paths with Regal several times in the last month. Maybe if Russo were booking, this would be a hard match to predict. (Note: After a two-week illness, I pick up where I left off, so if the mood suddenly feels different, I apologize) Storm attacks RVD while Show makes his entrance, then makes the mistake of attempting a plancha. Show throws him back in the ring where RVD greets him with a standing heel kick. Show blocks a kick from RVD and lays him out with a clothesline. Show fights off both men and hits Storm with a side slam for a two-count. RVD with Rolling Thunder for two. Show with a big slap to the chest of Storm, followed by a Biel throw out of the corner. RVD and Storm work together, hitting Show with a double dropkick and double clothesline. They block a Chokeslam attempt but a double suplex is countered by Show. Storm grabs a chair and has it punched back in his face. RVD with a missile dropkick, knocking the chair into Show's face, and the Five-Star Frog Splash stamps RVD's ticket to WrestleMania at 2:26. Not bad for a rushed triple threat. Regal doesn't appear too happy to face RVD at WrestleMania.

Booker T is backstage, reading a book on learning Japanese. Test interrupts and Booker says he's studying to get a spot for some Japanese shampoo commercial. He's also facing Rikishi tonight. Testy says if he's half as good a wrestler as he speaks Japanese, he's golden. WHY IS EVERYTHING GOLDEN? Whoops, 2003 is creeping into the past again.

The APA are backstage, and Bradshaw does a silly comedy routine where he locks himself out, only to walk around to grab the key and walk back around to unlock the door. Bradshaw says they have an invitation to "The Friendly Tap". AND EVERYTHING IS FREE. First, they're hitting up what Bradshaw's description indicates as a Strip Club.

Rikishi vs. Booker T:

Without the knowledge of what happens, where can this "Booker T auditions for Japanese Shampoo commercial" storyline possibly go and not seem like the biggest reach to give guys a reason to fight at WRESTLEMANIA? Rikishi continues to be a basement dwelling JTTS, but there's a 50/50 chance they protect him in a loss on any given night. Booker gets the jump, putting the boots to Rikishi in the corner. Rikishi reverses a whip and follows Booker into the corner with a clothesline. Whip across the ring and Rikishi with a powerslam for two. Booker cuts off a whip attempt with a standing heel kick to regain control. Whip is reversed and Rikishi with a clothesline, followed by a Samoan drop. Rikishi with a belly-to-belly suplex. He misses the charge into the corner and Booker T takes him down with the scissors-kick. Booker does some faux kung fu and pays for it, getting rocked with a Super Kick and knocked in position for you-know-what. Rikishi backs that a$$ up, but Booker pulls the referee in the way and uses the distraction to hit Rikishi with a jumping heel kick for three at 2:40. Of course Booker had to cheat to beat Rikishi.

Mark Henry is participating in strong man competitions, the first we've heard that name on WWF TV in nearly TWO YEARS.

Undisputed Champion Chris Jericho and Stephanie McMahon come out for our weekly gab session. Just a few more weeks and we're done with this terrible Triple H/Stephanie storyline. It's been over 20 years and this might be the most random duo the WWF could've possibly put together. Jericho brags about all his recent victories and credits Stephanie for being a genius and more of a Hall of Famer than Triple H. We get clips from last year where Triple H tore his quadriceps and continued the match, with Jericho putting him in the Walls of Jericho on the announcer's table. Yes, Jericho is taking credit for the injury and putting Hunter on the shelf for 8-months. Not only did he take away his time from the ring, he takes credit for destroying the relationship between Hunter and Stephanie. Stephanie chimes in, saying that the Game came up short in the bedroom. I wish death on nobody but myself having to watch this. Triple H interrupts, rocking his denim over leather jacket look. Hunter says the field he was playing on was too big, then says even a 747 looks small flying into the Grand Canyon. Yes, our WRESTLEMANIA MAIN EVENT IS BEING BUILT AROUND SOPHOMORIC SEXUAL PUNS. Hunter says if Jericho wants to prove how tough and sadistic he can be, then he can do it tonight. He doesn't even need to put the titles on the line! Kurt Angle interrupts, no doubt peeved at Stephanie's privates being called "the great wide open." He's been on the phone with Mr. McMahon, and since he was robbed of his title shot, he will face Chris Jericho for the Undisputed Title TONIGHT. The crowd reacts with complete indifference. Angle then says Stephanie can be HIS business partner for WrestleMania. Just when you thought the segment was over, Triple H hits Jericho with a spear and tosses him over the top rope.

Jonathan Coachman is backstage with Mr. Perfect, readying himself for tonight's Main Event against Steve Austin. I still can't believe I'm typing that about the 2002 WWF. Perfect says people are tired of hearing Coach's imperfect voice. Perfect says he challenged Steve Austin as retribution for ruining his return at the Royal Rumble and bashing him over the head with a chair the next night on Raw. Perfect says when he's done with Austin, his perfect record will remain intact. Coach cuts him off, reminding him of his match with Kane last week, but that was just an exhibition and doesn't count. OK, part of me likes delusional Mr. Perfect, but if you're just signing him to make him a joke, THEN WHY SIGN HIM IN THE FIRST PLACE?

WWF Women's Championship Match:
Jazz (c) vs. Mighty Molly:

Always great to see Molly get a chance to wrestle on TV. when Hurricane is traditionally buried on Jakked and Sunday Night Heat duty. Jazz attacks Molly as she enters the ring. She tries to tear up Molly's cape, unsuccessfully. Whip to the ropes and Molly with a series of overhead arm drags. Jazz catches a body press and plants her with a forward powerslam. Whip to the ropes, Molly slides between the legs and lays into Jazz with chops. Jazz cuts her off, hits a SLOW-MOTION roundhouse kick, and comes off the ropes with a splash for two. Jazz with a butterfly suplex and loud taunting. Molly survives a double chicken wing and surprises Jazz with an inside cradle for two. Molly with a back-slide for two. O'Connor Roll for two. Jazz gets sent into the ropes with a slingshot, but she recovers in time to avoid a flying body press. Boot to the chest and Jazz finishes with a fisherman brain buster at 3:43. Post-match, Jazz lays Molly out with a right hand and DDT, and eventually officials come out to stop the murder.. They were trying, but the crowd wasn't into it.

So one of the officials that came to check on Molly was Arn Anderson. Suddenly, the Undertaker casually makes his way to ringside and busts Arn Anderson open. ARN ANDERSON BLADED OFF A SINGLE RIGHT HAND. Taker says he wasn't going to accept "no" for an answer from Ric Flair and continues to make an example out of Anderson to get Flair's attention. Jim Ross cries about Arn being disabled, yet no one comes to his rescue. Not one official, one referee, one wrestler? I get you're trying the hard-sell for the angle, but that's a little too much.

WWF Undisputed Championship Match:
Chris Jericho (c) (w/ Stephanie McMahon) vs. Kurt Angle:

I feel like enough time hasn't elapsed since our last Stephanie McMahon appearance. I know this isn't a promo segment, but you know she's going to be chirping at ringside and being the center of attention. Jericho starts running his mouth before the bell and gets decked to kick off the action. I can't remember the last match where the heel didn't jump the gun. Angle continues pounding away and hits a short-clothesline for two. Whip is reversed and Angle with a release German suplex for two. Angle continues dishing it out in the corner. Whip across the ring and Jericho brings up a boot. Angle catches him diving off the turnbuckle with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex and covers for two. Jericho powders out, drawing Angle into a game of cat and mouse. They have a miscommunication in the ring but recover quickly and Angle gets dumped over the top rope. Back inside, Jericho comes off the top with a diving elbow for a two-count. Jericho with knees and an elbow drop for two. Jericho goes for the Walls of Jericho, but Angle counters with an inside cradle for two. Angle with a double-leg into the corner, followed by a fireman's carry. Angle counters a back body-drop but gets dropped on the top rope with a Hot Shot. Jericho takes too long climbing the ropes, allowing Angle to pop up and slam him down for a near-fall. They trade rights until Angle grabs a waist-lock and hits the German suplex train. Jericho counters the third, but the Walls of Jericho is again countered, this time with an Ankle Lock. Angle cuts off the bulldog with a clothesline for two. Jericho avoids the Angle Slam, sweeps the legs, and finally gets the Walls of Jericho applied, but Angle makes it to the ropes to force the break. Jericho powders out and snatches some toys. Brian Hebner doesn't understand the spot and Jericho is clearly doing what he can to direct traffic so Hebner has his back turned when Angle whacks Jericho with one of the title belts. He doesn't succeed. The belt shot only gets two, made worse by the fact there was almost zero delay between the shot and the cover. Ankle Lock applied, but Jericho makes it to the ropes. Angle gets sent to the floor with an enzuigiri, and suddenly Kane shows up! He tosses Angle back in the ring and Jericho hits the Skull Crushing Finale to retain at 9:06. Post-match, Kane continues the assault on Angle, knocking him over the ropes with a clothesline. Kane snatches some chairs, but Angle runs for his life. Solid action until Brian Hebner crapped the bed at the end. **½

Meanwhile, Ric Flair arrived and was notified of what happened to his best friend, and he doesn't seem happy.

Hulk Hogan is backstage in the Rock's dressing room to get in the face of the People's Champion, and he ends up cutting a promo on a cardboard cut-out of the Rock. YOU THOUGHT THE HEEL WAS GOING TO BE UPFRONT AND HONEST? SHAME ON YOU, BROTHER! Hogan says Rock may be popular now, but will they remember him in 10 or 20 years (spoilers: Yes)? He's disappointed that the Rock hasn't thanked him once for agreeing to wrestle him at WrestleMania. He wouldn't waste his time doing that with a nobody. Rock is a somebody, but he's still not in the league of a legend.

The APA arrives at The Friendly Tap, and it's "Men's Night." OH GOD. It takes Faarooq about 12-seconds to notice something isn't right. There's a bunch of men dressed as women, because we're supposed to find that disgusting and/or socially wrong. I can find humor in a lot of stuff, but this wasn't just bad, it was lazy bad. This dreadful segment goes on until Chuck and Billy ambush Bradshaw and Faarooq. WRESTLEMANIA BABY.

"Stone Cold" Steve Austin vs. Mr. Perfect:

We're finally at the finish line of this miserable episode. Before coming to the ring, Perfect comes across Hogan, Hall, and Nash. I'd make a comment about Perfect being a former member of the nWo, but I don't think WWF wants us to know, and this was pure coincidence. Hennig could've been Crash Holly of all people and they would've done the same thing. Lockup into the corner and we get a clean-ish break. They fight over a waist-lock and stumble into the corner for another break. Perfect grabs a side headlock and comes off the ropes with a shoulder block. Headlock takeover and Austin counters with a head-scissors. Crisscross and Austin whacks Perfect with a forearm. He unloads with chops in the corner and Perfect returns fire. Whip is reversed and Austin plants Perfect with a spine-buster. Austin sends Perfect from corner to corner. Perfect reverses a third whip but Austin pops out of the corner with a clothesline for two. The crowd DOES NOT CARE AT ALL FOR THIS MATCH. Perfect does the over-sell after being rammed into the turnbuckle. Jim Ross buries the match without outright saying the match is falling apart. Perfect takes control and does NOTHING to get heat. Austin cuts him off with the Thesz Press and comes off the ropes with the elbow. We get the mudhole stomping in the corner as Austin desperately does what he can to get the crowd to wake up. Stunner and we're done with whatever push Hennig might've had at 4:57. Post-match, Austin's beer celebration is interrupted by an nWo beatdown, and he's left laying after having a cinder block smashed over his knee.

Final Thoughts: We keep limping to the WrestleMania finish line with one of the weakest builds to a WrestleMania I can remember (as far as pre-2002 content is concerned). Ignoring Jim Ross' "he's disabled" screaming, the angle they shot with Undertaker and Arn Anderson was effective, and Hogan's promo on the Rock cut-out, while a little corny (it's Hogan), it worked to sell the match without having both men in the building. Not much can be said about the rest of the show. A dead crowd, forgettable matches hitting the same notes, that stupid APA segment making fun of same-sex relationships and an embarrassingly dead main event made this one tough episode to finish. Hopefully Smackdown can do better.

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